Washington, DC (February 27, 2013) – Over two dozen ACTrees members, together with partners from the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition, met with 60 Congressional offices this past week to address the vital importance of trees and green infrastructure for America’s communities during the 2013 ACTrees Policy Summit. In a string of events, ACTrees leadership and members pushed for trees and urban forests to legislators, government agency leaders, and at the National Academy of Sciences.
The week kicked off with the National Academy of Sciences participatory workshop on the ecosystem services provided by urban forests. ACTrees and several of its member organizations were selected to participate in this invitation-only workshop, which examined current capabilities for quantifying the ecosystem services of trees and canopy cover. Portions of the workshop, sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and the National Science Foundation, were webcast. More
The ACTrees Policy Summit began with an opening reception featuring stormwater specialist Randy Neprash. The event also provided advocacy training for ACTrees members from national partners including Jake Donnay of the National Association of State Foresters, Kevin O’Hara of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and ACTrees Program Director Leland Milstein. This training built on an earlier National Webcast, hosted by ACTrees and SUFC, to train all ACTrees members to take our message to elected officials not just in Washington, DC, but also at home in district offices and state capitals.
“We’d love to have all our members meet with elected officials in their hometowns. Share with them the goals of your organization, tell them what impacts urban forests are having in your community,” says Carrie Gallagher, ACTrees Executive Director. “This is what makes a difference when voices and votes are needed to support trees and green infrastructure.”
The next morning, our tree advocates split into teams and headed to the Hill for meetings with Congress. Among those speaking for trees was ACTrees’ Volunteer of the Year Dotti Clune, from Friends of Grand Rapids Park, MI, who was able to meet with her state delegation as well as Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa (see photo) to advocate for urban forests.
Topics of discussion during meetings with Congressional representatives and their staff included:
- Support for the US Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, which is vital to creating and maintaining healthy, livable communities of all sizes, with urban trees a key component of sustainable green infrastructure.
- Encouraging support for EPA’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership, as urban forests play a vital role in delivering clean water to communities.
- Continuing the Urban Natural Resources Research through U.S. Forest Service helping to clarify, assess, and quantify the effects of urban trees and green space on air quality, climate change, energy consumption, water quality, and human health.
- The value of the USDA Early Plant Pest Detection Program, which works to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests and diseases.
The Summit wrapped up with a reception co-sponsored with SUFC. The following day, ACTrees presented at SUFC’s annual meeting. ACTrees Program Director Leland Milstein participated in a panel on Vibrant Communities along with Keep America Beautiful. ACTrees programs, including our educational resources, tree planting program, and National NeighborWoodsTM Month, are all helping to advance “Recommendation 2” of the Vibrant Communities platform, which calls for greater engagement of the public in volunteering and stewardship of urban forests nationwide. View ACTrees presentation.
Check out our photos of the week’s events:
Going to Your Capital: 2013 ACTrees and SUFC Public Policy Agenda
ACTrees and SUFC Policy Leave Behind
ACTrees Participates in National Academy of Sciences Workshop
ACTrees presentation at SUFC Annual Meeting (Vibrant Communities)